“The Sulah program holds us all accountable to each other: that we have to consider our own upbringings, influences, decisions, and positions of power. We need to take responsibility to listen to each other, sometimes in ways we are not used to or that make us uncomfortable. However, these ways are necessary, can be done safely, and ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and those in our community.”
In 2019, Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) and the Coalition of Muslim Women Kitchener-Waterloo (CMW) embarked on a learning journey together to offer restorative responses to identity-based harm in our community. The result has been an innovative and unique community-based restorative response to the continuum of identity-based harm that occurs in our community. The Sulah report identifies what we’ve accomplished so far.
The report details that through the Sulah program, we have researched and implemented best practices, nurtured deep connections between Sulah and community organizations and cultural groups, offered restorative dialogues, trained and supported restorative dialogue volunteers, and evaluated our work.
Our key learning is that restorative practice has tremendous potential to impact the harm that our community experiences and to build human connection where there has been only discord. Our work has reinforced for us that people learn and change through building relationships, not punishment. When people experience harm, we will ask them what they need to begin the journey of healing. We have heard that some of these needs are safety, empowerment, recognition, and accountability. Restorative responses can be a crucial service to address these needs, if people voluntarily choose this option and the restorative approach is appropriate.
Our hope is that the Sulah report shines a light on the outcomes of our partnership, identifies the need for alternatives to policing and retributive responses to harm, and inspires other communities to consider developing quality restorative services to respond to identity-based harm that are deeply reflective and responsive. We welcome questions and comments. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be pleased to connect with you.
“Giving people a chance to understand you is important, because at the end of the day, our neighbours are not going anywhere. I can’t imagine living in a world in which you can’t look eye to eye with your next door neighbour. There has to be a better option than moving out of your neighbourhood or calling the police. There has to be a middle way. What CJI and CMW provide, through Sulah, is one such way”
–Sulah Staff Member
To read the full report, click HERE